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Dictionaries :: Ophir

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Easton's Bible Dictionary

Ophir:

(1.) One of the sons of Joktan (Gen 10:29).

(2.) Some region famous for its gold (1Ki 9:28; 10:11; 22:48; Job 22:24; 28:16; Isa 13:12). In the LXX. this word is rendered "Sophir," and "Sofir" is the Coptic name for India, which is the rendering of the Arabic version, as also of the Vulgate. Josephus has identified it with the Golden Chersonese, i.e., the Malay peninsula. It is now generally identified with Abhira, at the mouth of the Indus. Much may be said, however, in favour of the opinion that it was somewhere in Arabia.

Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary

Ophir:

fruitful region

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Ophir:

o'-fer, o'-fir ('owphiyr (Ge 10:29), ‘owphir (1Ki 10:11), ‘ophir):

1. Scriptural References:

The 11th in order of the sons of Joktan (Ge 10:29 equals 1Ch 1:23). There is a clear reference also to a tribe Ophir (Ge 10:30). Ophir is the name of a land or city somewhere to the South or Southeast of Palestine for which Solomon's ships along with Phoenician vessels set out from Ezion-geber at the head of the Gulf of Aqabah, returning with great stores of gold, precious stones and "almug"-wood (1Ki 9:28; 10:11; 2Ch 9:10; 1Ki 22:48; 2Ch 8:18). We get a fuller list of the wares and also the time taken by the voyage if we assume that the same vessels are referred to in 1Ki 10:22, "Once every three years came the navy of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks." The other products may not have been native to the land of Ophir, but it is certain that the gold at least was produced there. This gold was proverbial for its purity, as is witnessed by many references in the Old Testament (Ps 45:9; Job 28:16; Isa 13:12; 1Ch 29:4), and, in Job 22:24, Ophir is used for fine gold itself. In addition to these notices of Ophir, it is urged that the name. occurs also in two passages under the form "Uphaz" (Jer 10:9; Da 10:5).

2. Geographical Position:

At all times the geographical position of Ophir has been a subject of dispute, the claims of three different regions being principally advanced, namely (1) India and the Far East, (2) Africa, (3) Arabia.

(1) India and the Far East.

All the wares mentioned are more or less appropriate to India, even including the fuller list of 1Ki 10:22. "Almug"-wood is conjectured to be the Indian sandal-wood. Another argument is based on the resemblance between the Septuagint form of the word (Sophera) and the Coptic name for India (Sophir). A closer identification is sought with Abhira, a people dwelling at the mouths of the Indus. Supara, an ancient city on the west coast of India near the modern Goa, is also suggested. Again, according to Wildman, the name denotes a vague extension eastward, perhaps as far as China.

(2) Africa.

This country is the greatest gold-producing region of the three. Sofala, a seaport near Mozambique on the east coast of Africa, has been advanced as the site of Ophir, both on linguistic grounds and from the nature of its products, for there all the articles of 1Ki 10:22 could be procured. But Gesenius shows that Sofala is merely the Arabic form of the Hebrew shephelah. Interest in this region as the land of Ophir was renewed, however, by Mauch's discovery at Zimbabye of great ruins and signs of old Phoenician civilization and worked-out gold mines. According to Bruce (I, 440), a voyage from Sofala to Ezion-geber would have occupied quite three years owing to the monsoons.

(3) Arabia.

The claim of Southeastern Arabia as the land of Ophir has on the whole more to support it than that of India or of Africa. The Ophir of Ge 10:29 beyond doubt belonged to this region, and the search for Ophir in more distant lands can be made only on the precarious assumption that the Ophir of Ki is not the same as the Ophir of Gen. Of the various products mentioned, the only one which from the Old Testament notices can be regarded as clearly native to Ophir is the gold, and according to Pliny and Strabo the region of Southeastern Arabia bordering on the Persian Gulf was a famous gold-producing country. The other wares were not necessarily produced in Ophir, but were probably brought there from more distant lands, and thence conveyed by Solomon's merchantmen to Ezion-geber. If the duration of the voyage (3 years) be used as evidence, it favors this location of Ophir as much as that on the east coast of Africa. It seems therefore the least assailable view that Ophir was a district on the Persian Gulf in Southeastern Arabia and served in old time as an emporium of trade between the East and West.

Written by A. S. Fulton

Smith's Bible Dictionary

Ophir:

(abundane).

(1.) The eleventh in order of the sons of Joktan (Genesis 10:29; 1 Chronicles 1:23). (B.C. after 2450)

(2.) A seaport or region from which the Hebrews in the time of Solomon obtained gold. The gold was proverbial for its fineness, so that "gold of Ophir" is several times used as an expression for fine gold (1 Chronicles 29:4; Job 28:16; Psalm 45:9; Isaiah 13:12) and in one passage (Job 22:24) the word "Ophir" by itself is used for gold of Ophir, and for gold generally. In addition to gold, the vessels brought from Ophir almug wood and precious stones. The precise geographical situation of Ophir has long been a subject of doubt and discussion. The two countries which have divided the opinions of the learned have been Arabia and India, while some have placed it in Africa. In five passages Ophir is mentioned by name ‐ (1 Kings 9:28; 10:11; 22:18; 2 Chronicles 8:18; 9:10). If the three passages of the book of Kings are carefully examined, it will be seen that all the information given respecting Ophir is that it was a place or region accessible by sea from Ezion‐geber on the Red Sea, from which imports of gold, almug trees and precious stones were brought back by the Tyrian and Hebrew sailors. The author of the tenth chapter of Genesis certainly regarded Ophir as the name of some city, region or tribe in Arabia. It is almost certain that the Ophir of Genesis is the Ophir of the book of Kings. There is no mention, either in the Bible or elsewhere, of any other Ophir; and the idea of there having been two Ophirs evidently arose from a perception of the obvious meaning of the tenth chapter of Genesis on the one hand, coupled with the erroneous opinion, on the other that the Ophir of the book of Kings could not have been in Arabia (Hence we conclude that Ophir was in southern Arabia, upon the border of the Indian Ocean; for even if all the things brought over in Solomon's ships are not now found in Arabia, but are found in India, yet, there is evidence that they once were known in Arabia and, moreover, Ophir may not have been the original place of production of some of them, but the great market for traffic in them.)

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